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Blood on Their Hands - Poonch Incident
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Recently, anger has spread over the Poonch IIOJK incident where three civilians were killed while in army custody. The Indian army detained at least eight civilians for questioning, the day after rebels fighting against Indian rule ambushed two army vehicles in the southern Poonch district, killing four soldiers and wounding three others. Poonch is close to the highly militarized line of control that divides the disputed Himalayan region between India and Pakistan.

Indian brutalities in IIOJK have been a continuous human rights violation since its inception. According to various sources, the Indian troops have been using excessive force, killing, arresting, torturing, and destroying properties, molesting women, and other heinous crimes with impunity.

The Kashmir conflict is a complex and long-standing issue that involves the political, religious, and territorial aspirations of the people of Kashmir, as well as the interests and influence of neighboring countries, especially India and Pakistan. The conflict has its roots in the partition of British India in 1947 when the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir had to decide whether to join India or Pakistan.

Since then, the conflict has continued with several wars, skirmishes, and insurgencies, as well as diplomatic efforts to resolve it peacefully. However, no lasting solution has been reached so far, and the situation remains tense and volatile. The main issues that divide India and Pakistan over Kashmir are:

  • The status of Jammu and Kashmir: Both countries claim the entire region as their own, but they have different views on how it should be governed. India administers most of Jammu and Kashmir under its direct control or through special regions called Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan administers only one part of Jammu and Kashmir called Azad Kashmir (Free State), which is separated from Indian-administered Kashmir by a Line of Control (LoC) that divides them along a de facto border. Pakistan also claims some parts of Indian-administered Kashmir such as Aksai Chin and Gilgit-Baltistan.
  • The human rights situation: In August 2019, the Indian government revoked the special autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed region claimed by both India and Pakistan, and imposed a lockdown and communication blackout on the territory. The Indian authorities have also arrested many human rights defenders, journalists, activists and politicians under various laws, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which is often used to suppress dissent. According to some reports, more than 200 civilians have been killed by Indian troops since August 2019. The Indian forces have also destroyed properties, crops, and infrastructure in Kashmir, causing economic hardship and environmental damage to the people. The Indian government has also imposed restrictions and curfews on the Kashmiri people, denying them their basic rights such as freedom of movement, expression, assembly, and religion. It has also tried to change the ground reality in IIOJK by holding political meetings, cultural events, and sports competitions in the occupied territory. However, these events have been met with protests and resistance by the Kashmiri people who demand their right to self-determination.
  • The role of third parties: Both countries seek international recognition and support for their positions on Jammu and Kashmir. They also try to involve other countries such as China, the United States, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, etc., in their efforts to resolve the conflict. The international community has largely remained silent or indifferent to the plight of the Kashmiri people. The United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have not taken any effective action to stop the Indian brutalities in IIOJK or to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN resolutions.

Pakistan has played a significant role in the Kashmir conflict resolution since its inception. However, Indian stubbornness never allowed to yield any fruitful outcomes of the conflict. The Kashmiri people have been expressing their solidarity and support for each other and appreciating the role of Pakistan through various means such as rallies, strikes, sit-ins, cultural programs, and social media campaigns. They have also been seeking help from their diaspora communities in other countries who have been raising awareness and advocating for their cause. However, the outcomes are yet awaited. The international community, especially the UN and other HR organizations, need to put pressure on India to walk towards a permanent solution in Kashmir. Pakistan and India can adopt using following lines to resolve it, avoiding nuclear war in South Asia:

  • A joint council for the whole of Kashmir that would legislate or advise upon all matters of common concern, such as the utilization of its hydel resources, the construction of roads, and the harmonization of tax and other laws.
  • A dialogue between India and Pakistan that would address the core issues of Kashmir and lead to a peaceful settlement based on mutual respect and trust.
  • A plebiscite supervised by UN monitors that would allow the people of Kashmir to choose their ¬†political status and future.¬†

 

Iqra Awan is a Research Fellow at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and can be reached at iqraawann18@gmail.com

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